Disclaimer: This is sponsored content. All opinions and views are of UCHealth and does not reflect the same of KOAA.
I want to remind you one more time about a free hand surgery day coming in Colorado Springs on Saturday, February 25th, because there are still a few more patient slots open, so they have extended the application deadline to this Friday, February 10th.
The volunteers with the Touching Hands Project want you to know if you’re having any pain or discomfort with your fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, or elbows, even something you might think you have to put up with because it’s normal, it’s not. It’s something they want to help you with - for free.
Dr. Karl Larsen, an orthopedic surgeon with the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence and part of the Touching Hands Project says, “Even in certain arthritis conditions, pain in the hand is not normal. Swellings, tumors, or cysts in the hands are not normal. They're worthy of evaluation, and in many cases, there's something we can do about it.”
Dr. Jeffry Watson who’s an orthopedic surgeon with the Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group and the chairman of the Domestic Outreach Committee for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand who leads the Touching Hands Project says, “These problems are benign problems. Trigger fingers hurt they're disruptive they're a nuisance truly, but no one's ever passed away because of pain in their finger. There's no urgency for these issues but they hurt and it can really bother people, especially if you have a job that requires a lot of gripping. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another one that comes up a lot. These are common problems in the general population.”
To qualify for this free surgery, you have to fall into what’s referred to as the insurance gap. You make too much money to qualify for an assisted insurance program, but you don’t make enough money to be able to afford insurance out of pocket.
Dr. Larsen says, “The population we're trying to help is people who do not have health insurance and that are not eligible for government support through the Medicaid or Medicare program.
Lisa Waltman was a patient on the free hand surgery day in 2019 and tells me she was reluctant to reach out for help because she had a job and felt others were more deserving. But the arthritis pain in her fingers was so bad, she couldn’t hold a pen or pencil to write - so she looked into it.
Lisa says, “I made the call that day and they asked me some questions and I qualified. I was working hard but I didn't have enough money to pay for insurance.”
Lisa admits it was difficult to accept help, and she didn't know what the surgical experience itself would be like, because it was free.
Lisa recalls, “From the very first appointment before the surgery, when I met with the staff and everybody involved with my surgery, I felt like I was probably the highest-paying customer. At no point did I feel like they were doing this because poor pathetic me.”
Many times, the type of problems this free hand surgery day is looking to address may not need surgery to be made better, and that’s something that can happen on your pre-surgery screening appointment, and it can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life.
Dr. Watson says no matter how they are able to help people, they are grateful. “They are grateful because they've been walking around with something where they just had no opportunity to get it addressed. Either because of cost reasons or a phase of life. Sometimes you're the one taking care of everybody else, and your problems aren't the priority. I run into that in a lot of patients.
To learn more about the Touching Hands Project here in southern Colorado, you can visit (https://www.epctouchinghandsproject.org/) and to learn more about the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, who we are, what they do, and the mission behind the Touching Hands Project visit their website (https://www.assh.org/s/)
UCHealth is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family